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A Brief Explanation, by Jim Rohner

26 Sep


So, a little while ago (checks calendar, shakes head in shame) Okay, so, two years ago I accepted Tyler’s invitation to take part in a project that would allow me to blog about the analytical and personal nuance of each film that made up my Top Ten Favorite Films. The distinction, if you remember, between what I was classifying as my Top Ten Favorites and not Top Ten Best was that the former was almost entirely informed by personal, emotionally, and chronologically subjectivity – what some would call “intangible factors” – whereas the latter was and is completely beyond my knowledge and exposure to even contemplate attempting. Titles on this list would not necessarily contain those to which the AFI or AMPAS would hand out awards, but would contain titles that I return to again and again no matter where I am in my life geographically or emotionally.

Thus, in November 2014 I began my list with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film widely considered a classic of its genre, albeit a genre that is largely still looked down upon in traditional critical circles. What followed was a partially completed list distributed sporadically across 11 months that took an indefinite hiatus after my seventh favorite film, John Carpenter’s The Thing. Where was the rest of the list? Why the delay? What happened?


Jim’s Seventh Favorite Film

29 Oct

When it’s all said and done, John Carpenter likely won’t go down in history being spoken of in the same breath as Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, John Ford or any other director whose name is synonymous with path paving, pioneering or inspiring future generations. Despite directing a few titles that have resonated with audiences enough to be re-visited and reshaped by others (Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog), Carpenter has also directed his fair share of clunkers (pretty much his entire output since the 90s minus In the Mouth of Madness) or titles that aren’t easy to classify by the mainstream (Big Trouble in Little China, They Live).

Because of this, it’s easier for people to overlook Carpenter’s legacy or discredit his successes as anomalies than it is to admit that the man who wrote, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” is a skilled filmmaker. But if one wanted to prove that Carpenter’s success and worth were warranted, he or she would have to look no further than The Thing as Exhibit A, B and C.


Jim’s Eighth Favorite Film

9 Jul


Let’s all do ourselves a solid and pretend that it hasn’t been seven months since I wrote my last entry into my Top Ten Favorites, shall we?  Good.

I was forthcoming at the outset of this blog series that subjectivity, as is the case with any Top Ten list, would play a key role in its formation.  Despite the fact that this list is still in its infancy we’ve come to the entry in which, more so than any of the other films before or after, the immeasurable, personal factors – nostalgia, mood, time, place – play a significant role in the reverence I hold for it.


Jim’s Ninth Favorite Film

4 Dec


9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Mark 10:9

The ninth verse of the tenth chapter or Mark’s gospel is the go-to citation for anyone trying to Biblically justify the forbidding of divorce.  At its heart the verse makes a lot of sense.  As Christians we believe, to one extent or the other, that many of the significant turning points in our lives – choice of college, career path, marriage, etc. – are willed by God, individual breaks deliberately constructed into a path that is meant to lead to the fruition of His will for us.  But removed from context, this verse has also been cited to induce shame, to bully weak minds and weaker hearts into submission and to ultimately justify greater evils, such as the acceptance of emotional and/or physical abuse, over lesser.

So, what happens when the words in that verse are flipped – “Therefore what God has put asunder, let no man put together”?


Jim’s Tenth Favorite Film

1 Nov

Blutgericht in Texas

10. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

First and foremost allow me to apologize for the incongruity between my introduction, with its implications of a list soon to follow, and the disappointing realization of what turned out to be a long delay. A recent move across state lines has occupied both my physical and mental energies for an extended period that has only recently come to cessation, but luckily the dust has settled just in time for Halloween, which makes for an unintended but serendipitous segue into the first entry into my Top Ten Favorite Films list, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.


“Top” Ten, by Jim Rohner

25 Sep


There’s something inherently and immediately enjoyable about lists.  People are more inclined to spend the time to read a list with its easily digestible bites than they are an article with its in-depth eloquence and deliberate structure.  While lists of the Top Ten Best This’s or Top Ten Worst That’s may have once been considered novelties or reserved for special occasions on websites in the past, internet lists are so often read that there are now entire websites dedicated to making lists.  So, when Tyler asked the MTOL contributors if anyone wanted to tackle a Top Ten list inspired by his and Josh’s current stretch of minisodes, I jumped at the chance.  But almost as soon as I agreed to write it, I began to wonder if I was capable of writing a worthwhile list.